Products in the hygiene industry continue to evolve all the time as consumer demands grow and change. The companies that design the machinery used to make these products must respond to these changes and are constantly improving their hygiene equipment and machinery offerings, whether it’s for the baby diaper, feminine hygiene or adult incontinence markets. The following is a review of the latest equipment and services offered from some of the nonwovens industry’s leading hygiene machinery manufacturers.
Fameccanica makes production lines for disposable absorbent sanitary products. It designs, manufactures and installs complete lines for the production, stacking and packaging of diapers for babies, training and youth pants, lady napkins, panty liners and products for incontinent adults including briefs, pull-ups, bed underpads and products for light incontinence pads and male guards.
Fameccanica offers not only high performance machines but also entry-level and medium-speed platforms to support the growth of customers during their business stages as well as when they are differentiating their businesses across developed and developing markets.
“Fameccanica is a benchmark in the hygiene machinery market due to its non-stop attitude toward innovation in technology, products and services,” says Alessandro D’Andrea, marketing manager.
The company is present worldwide with headquarters in Italy and plants in China, Brazil and the U.S. and this allows it to be closer to its customers logistically and culturally.
The key Fameccanica innovation in adult incontinence is adult pant diaper model FIX P5X, a high-speed machine for pull-on protective underwear. This machine owns a unique technology for in-line processing of breathable, elastic laminated waistband with ultrasonically bonded transpiring spots—a Fameccanica patent—to create a discrete and soft feeling product with maximum fit and comfort. The machine is also available in a version capable of achieving traditional threads waist elasticization as well as in a flexible version to produce both product types.
Also in the field of adult incontinence, another interesting achievement is the “BEST” Zero Trim Ear Technology. BEST is the well-known Fameccanica patent solution for asymmetric back ears sans trim, that can allow “€-7-digit” estimated savings per year, according to the company. It is now available both on the high capacity machine model FIX P5 and on the entry-level machine model FIX B2.
Another recent addition to Fameccanica’s machinery range is the entry-level adult incontinence diaper machine model FIX B2. This is available, as standard, in the configuration for the manufacturing of leg shaped adult incontinence briefs with wide chassis. It can also be designed to manufacture both incontinence briefs and bed underpads. According to the most recent market trends, the machine is also available in a special configuration for the manufacturing of “multi-piece” adult incontinence diapers with rectangular front and backside panels made of the same material. The combination of any of the above product structures is also available, upon request.
In the field of lady and light inco, Fameccanica has introduced FNL P12 L.I. for light incontinence pads with fluff absorbent core with high SAP contents and individually wrapped, including electronic repitch technology for elastic foam application.
In addition, Fameccanica has recently improved its technology for the FLS Lamination System for breathable, elastic side panels for baby and adult incontinence diapers. It is characterized by the known solution of ultrasonically bonded transpiring spots.
“There is a clear request for innovation in the adult incontinence segment,” says D’Andrea. “This innovation targets for new products with better fit and comfort, while keeping acceptable production costs introducing solutions for cost saving such as zero trim and in-line processes. Looking at 2014, the key innovation is the new FIX B2X, a medium capacity machine for adult incontinence adult pant diapers, available both for ultrasonically bonded film laminate waist band and traditional threads waist elasticization.”
According to D’Andrea, the key challenges moving forward are the need to create everyday innovative answers for a wide range of products and a wide range of machinery platforms, from the entry level to the highest performances. “Customers require full 360-degree support for their production needs, including training, support to maintenance and troubleshooting,” he says. “In general, the request is for quicker technical intervention and real production consulting for the management and updating of production plants.”
Bicma’s company philosophy, “Competent - Innovative - Flexible,” is reflected by high quality machines, reliability in lead times and performance, constant innovation and long-term high levels of service and partnership. The latest and best technical solutions from Bicma include servodrive and control series; electroncial repitch units to adapt to different product pitches without size part changes; smart solutions for drum change within less than five minutes; special technology for thin cores with high SAP amounts; flexographic printing on topsheet; solutions for fluffless cores and flexible machine concepts prepared for easy upgrades.
Bicma’s recent developments include features to manufacture low-waste or zero-waste shaped ears for adult diapers. These are available for new machines and as upgrade kits for existing machines, which up to now only produce anatomical diapers. The new product concept has a raw material cost savings potential of up to approximately €1 million per year, compared to anatomical diapers the company says.
For adult shaped incontinence pads, length folding of the anatomical product sides is a smart and easy upgrade available for new or existing machines. The more narrow product width reduces bag sizes, logistic costs and shelf space.
Giving consideration to the growing demand for different product types in the adult incontinence market, Bicma has launched its flexible adult inco machine series: 1128-AD COMBO XL for shaped pads and adult diapers with ears or belts; and 1128-AD COMBO XXL for shaped pads, adult diapers and underpads.
These flexible machines are ideal for companies whose production volumes for each of these products is not yet high enough to load a machine completely.
In addition, Bicma has launched customized technology to produce disposable toilet bags, which are being used for example in the Philippines just now, after the typhoon catastrophe.
Bicma is achieving cost reduction in adult diapers by combining a narrow chassis with add-on ears or belts. For baby diapers, this technology has been an integral part of Bicma’s portfolio for many years. Adult diaper machines however require more sophisticated processes, due to the product dimensions.
“Being among the top five suppliers of high quality and high performance hygiene machines, Bicma is certainly one of the most flexible and innovative ones,” says Andrea Allar, sales and project manager. “The company is specialized in the development of customized solutions. On average, every second Bicma machine includes prototype processes for new product features. This special competence, paired with nearly 30 years of experience and a highly motivated and skilled team, give Bicma an outstanding position, which is well known and appreciated in the market.”
Allar discussed several trends shaping Bicma’s business. In baby diapers, he says K-C’s withdrawal from the European diaper market has brought a sudden dynamic into the machinery market, which otherwise would not have occurred in this saturated region. “The effects of this event are now slowly abating, getting back to normal,” he says. “In the meantime, demand for production capacity is continuously growing in regions such as the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America and Asia Pacific. In these markets, upgrades of existing older machines to produce diapers with elastic side panels are seeing an increasing demand.”
In the adult heavy and light incontinence segments, Allar says in classical incontinence markets such as North America, Japan and Europe, product upgrades and the need for more capacity to catch up with the aging population has created demand for new machinery and upgrades of existing equipment. “Acquisitions keep changing the market structure and give room to new investments,” he says. “In emerging markets however, incontinence product manufacturing is still second priority after baby diapers and feminine care. This is related to the demographic structure of these younger societies and to the disposable income per person.”
In feminine care, Allar says market concentration by acquisitions has again brought some new dynamics even in saturated markets. “In emerging markets, the need for new equipment continues to rise,” he says. “In all countries, the consumer expects modern state-of-the-art products so old machines need to be replaced or upgraded.”
As for underpads and pet pads, this market has not received much attention but is gaining importance. “An increased amount of companies are offering these products,” says Allar. “New equipment is needed, in particular since several existing old machines are no longer competitive. Also pet pads, formerly only a niche product, are now well established and see a growing demand in the market.”
Discussing other trends, Allar says that due to concentration by acquisition of smaller companies by larger ones, there is an increased demand for reliable high-efficiency equipment. “Machines tend to be dedicated to two to three product sizes, which shall be run at highest possible speed,” he says. “This is a change from the past, when single machines had to cover a wide range of product variations and flexibilty had top priority over speed and output. Customers require different possible machine layouts to adapt to any size and space with the flexibility to allow easy and quick upgrades and changes.
“Also, quality demands for the products made on the machines have increased. Some private label retailers meanwhile have stricter quality requirements than manufacturers of branded products. Organizations like the EU, FDA or others impose specific norms and quality standards that products in certain countries have to fulfill.”
Bicma responds to these trends by offering extremely reliable high-quality machines, which can be set up in many different layout alternatives. “They have a very constant process with minimum tolerances, despite today’s trend towards thinner and flexible materials,” says Allar. “Special generations of unwinders allow splicing without tension peaks in the material, even if thin material are run at high speeds. New layout concepts reduce the raw material web paths in the line to get an even more exact process. Product and raw materials are permanently under control so that variations are nearly excluded. This new machinery generation is nevertheless very flexible and can handle a wide range of product sizes. Modular design combined with full servodrive concept provide high flexibility for changes and upgrades.
Cellulose Converting Solutions
Cellulose Converting Solutions (CCS) is an Italian company that offers a complete range of disposable hygienic product manufacturing lines with high technological solutions. Its portfolio includes sanitary napkin machines; panty shield machines; light incontinence machines for male and female; adult pant pull-on type machines; adult brief machines; baby diaper machines; underpad machines; and also bibs lines, fluid absorbing pad lines and milk-breast cups lines.
CCS is a dynamic company with more than 25-years experience in this field. All machines are designed by CCS’s team of engineers. The mechanical and electrical components as well as all machine parts are manufactured in Italy or other parts of Europe. CCS says its main capabilities it offers customers include the capability to design tailor made solutions to satisfy specific needs; flexibility; continuous research of the most simple solutions; and innovation.
In 2013, CCS developed a new adult pant machine with new technological solutions that increase the performance of the CCS adult pant. CCS designed and manufactured the first adult pant machine in 2009 and since then, four adult pant machines were manufactured and for the next year CCS will manufacture two more pull-on machines.
In addition, for the next year, CCS is developing a new project in fem care, baby care, adult briefs and light inco.
The global market has different requests, according to Dario Di Lullo, area sales manager. “Each country or continent has a different need in term of hygiene products and CCS is capable of responding to all the requests of every country with very good products that are very high quality,” he says.
Di Lullo also says the global market for hygiene machinery has changed a lot in the last 10 years. “The request of the market is for a product of high quality level and reliable,” he says. “Customers are looking for a vendor that supports them from start to finish, including production plant design, to product know-how, raw materials know-how, spare parts, after sales, training and assistance. Only a company capable of responding to all these requests can maintain a leadership position in the market.
Customers are looking for machines capable of making updated products for the market and at the same time the customers want to save costs in term of raw materials, according to Di Lullo. “For sure this demand is something that will grow in the future and CCS is always active in this sense through our extensive experience and the research,” he says.
Zuiko’s overall focus is on stable production, production efficiency and machine longevity because, according to Curtis Woo, sales and marketing manager, these are important for the customer’s long-term bottom line. “Many of the top machine manufactures will likely agree,” he says. “What makes Zuiko different than many competitors is we constantly develop and design machines that make specific products for what our customers want. This allows our customers to differentiate their products from their competitors; not just cosmetically, but physically and functionally.”
Zuiko has been very busy with new machine designs and production processes this past year. Specifically, its engineers are designing faster machines while keeping in line with the company’s overall focus.
Woo says not everyone needs nor wants the fastest machine with full options. “Some companies need machines that have a short lead time and are easier to maintain yet have a high standard of production quality,” he says.
For these specific users, Zuiko will introduce a new machine to complement our successful Z-Style model in early 2014.
“There is a huge demand for baby diapers in economically growing markets, especially in markets with large infant populations,” says Woo. “We see that many companies, who are looking for ways to satiate that demand, come to us for help. Customers decide who the leaders are. We would not be in our position without our customers’ success.”
Staying on the cutting-edge and continuing to develop new technologies that help customers succeed in constantly changing markets is a key challenge for Zuiko.
“Customers are demanding things that help them stand out from their competitors,” says Woo. “If all machines in the world made the same diaper, there would not be any choice for the end-users. This kind of situation would be horrible for the industry. Zuiko will always ask what customers want because our strength is in making the customer’s ideas become a reality. If a simple diaper is enough, we can build a machine to make that. If the customer has a new and unique diaper design in mind, we can build a machine for that too.
Woo feels 2014 looks to be another very exciting year for the entire disposable hygiene industry. “Zuiko will continue to change and evolve with the market as it has done for the past 50 years,” he says.
Equipment Review: Hygiene Machinery
Major suppliers of nonwovens machinery offer new technological developments.
By Tim Wright, Editor
Published January 6, 2014